After leaving his post as the head coach at Coral Gables a year-and-a-half ago to venture off into the private sector with a business opportunity that ultimately did not work out, Roger Pollard has returned to a familiar place this season: the sidelines running the football program again.
And a program that slid a year ago in his absence is back on the rise again as evidenced by Thursday night’s performance.
Taking on a depleted Miami High team (1-3) that is barely a shell of last year’s team that nearly made it to the 8A state championship game, the Cavaliers dominated from the opening whistle, never taking their foot off the pedal en route to an easy 35-0 victory at Curtis Park.
The win is the third straight for the Cavs following an opening-week loss to South Dade but if anybody thought Pollard was happy and ecstatic about the win, guess again.
Following the game, which was quick thanks to a David Lamey 22-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter that started the running clock, Gables players were on the ground doing rollovers 50 yards across the field.
“Personal fouls cost us the game against South Dade and we had one tonight,” said Pollard. “My rule is, if we get even one personal foul, they’re all on the ground after the game doing rollovers.”
Even though he only spent one year away from the game, Pollard made it clear that the landscape of high school football including the Gables program are much much different than when he left.
“Between the seniors that were here when I left and now how easy it is to transfer, it’s almost like starting over,” Pollard said. “The kids really don’t know who I am, what I do and how we do things around here so it’s still very much a learning process as we go along.”
The personal foul aside, Pollard had to have been happy with his team’s first-half performance as quarterback Gerald Williams and Lamey led the charge to a 28-0 halftime lead.
Williams, who finished 12-of-18 for 154 yards, fired three touchdown passes in the first half. Two went to favorite target Rasaad Sawyer, the second of which was a spectacular highlight reel one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone where he barely had one foot down in bounds. He finished his night with five catches for 58 yards and the two scores.
Lamey, who finished his night with 98 yards on just five carries, scored the first of his two touchdown from five yards out just before halftime.
“Coach Pollard coming back, he really harps on discipline and even though we don’t like it sometimes, it makes us a better team in the end,” said Sawyer who found out firsthand a minute later when he was on the ground with his teammates doing the rollovers. “It feels good to win tonight but we know we’ve got a lot of work still ahead in front of us.”
Said Pollard: “There’s nothing wrong with winning but right now it’s all about trying to install how we do things. It’s not really about the end result, it’s about our day to day grind. Everybody wants to play and win on gameday, but I’m trying to get them to understand that it’s a Monday through Thursday thing around here. We preach four things around here: show up, shut up, work hard and listen and that’s what I’m going to continue to work on doing.